Home is where the heart is..

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          Home is where the heart is..

By Upagupt Mohanty

Picture this! There is an air of expectation around the impending arrival of that non resident …brother, uncle, aunty or friend who descends with a battery of jumbo size bag that appear pregnant with promises. Unpacking the bulky suitcases at home was a ‘Santa Claus act’, the gifts popping out before the eager onlookers. A muffler for the grandfather, a watch for father, a bottle of perfume for mother, a pair of T-shirt and denim jeans/ cosmetics for the teenagers, chocolates for the neighbours and a colourful folding umbrella for the old maid. The NRO wakes up to the all familiar world…. Meeting up all family members and friends, eating at food joints (recollecting the old memories) and drinking mineral water. The jetlag, change of environment and gorging of food usually upsets the belly and turns schedules upside down. “Bhai… I have been noticing you for a while now, you seem so ecstatic meeting family members, gobbling up starters and enjoying the Odia live music”. I started a conversation with Sarthak- a distinct cousin attending a lavish Odia wedding reception. He was a show stopper, swaying his moves to the tunes of Rangabati and gulping down the dahi- vada with aloo dum and Gupchup. “Hey man….How you doing? I had been to your house, met Sujata Mausi… I enjoyed her special recipe Mansa( Mutton) Kassa….I wanted to eat everything that I miss there …. my belly has its limits but can’t check the surging temptation…so scoring a little. We don’t get such food and music in Norway”… replied Sarthak. “Oh! Norway…. (flaming his superiority factor)”…I added. “Not the Never Returning Odia” he quipped with a smile. “Great sense of humour, Bhai” I said. With a wink, he replied back “our identity should not be defined by the place we term as house, but the place we term our home and that is Odisha”. Is it so easy to move to a new and unfamiliar country leaving behind the family and memories? I think, if we ask a few people whether they would be willing to pack their bags, leave their cozy home comforts to settle in an unknown nation with a different culture, language, rules and social norms. On the face of it, we may say ‘Odisha has limited opportunities so to soar high in life one has to leave one’s homeland’ but heart of heart, we all know and miss life in Odisha. It’s People, food, sports, festivals and weddings are just woven into the fabric of our life. Odisha has a long record of migration. It is evident from the tradition of Bali Jatra. Trade links by sea merchants with overseas countries like Bali, Java Sumatra prevailed during the Ancient and Middle Ages. In recent times, the migration has been to all parts of the globe, mostly due to the lure of jobs, education, research and business. India has emerged as the migration super power. Keeping in view Prabasi Divas, team Coffee Bytes spoke to a few NRO sons of the soil, on how they keep themselves rooted, what they miss….etc Name:

Name: Cyril Patro.
Profession/Designation: Managing Director, First Allianz Bank.
Location: Lusaka, Zambia.

How do you keep yourself rooted to Odisha?

I am fortunate enough to come to Odisha once in every 6 months to be with family and friends. That helps me to connect to my mother land.

What do you miss most about Odisha like food, festival etc?

I miss Odia food a lot. Especially the Pakhala, Arisa Pitha and the street food chaat and dahi-bara aloo dum. Also, the pithas in different festivals, the sight and sounds during various ‘parba- parbanis’ and festivities associated with them.

What is the essence of Odisha that you share with foreigners?

Being a die- hard Odia, I always share the warmth and culture of Odisha which is rich and exuberant in everyway with foreigners and many non-Odia Indians who have little knowledge about the heritage of our state.

Are you associated with any Odia community?

I am associated with the Indian community as unfortunately there aren’t many Odias in Zambia which is pre-dominantly Gujratis and Punjabis settled for many generations. However back in Odisha I am part of Odia Bankers community and we meet once in a month and in my earlier postings I was a part of various Odia communities.

If you are bestowed with power for a day, what would be the thing which you would like to change for the betterment of Odisha?

I would like to work on better health care facilities which needs to reach people in the most remote villages of Odisha apart from this many other pressing issues like safety and education of girls, better infrastructure etc.…however Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Name: Kaushik Mohanty.
Profession/Designation: Senior Consultant/Planner, Qatar Metro Rail Project.
Location: Doha-Qatara.

How do you keep yourself rooted to Odisha?

Born and brought up in Cuttack Odisha. I did my school, college and even Bachelor degree at Cuttack which indicates I have spent the most joyful time of my life in Cuttack only. Those days were most valuable time in my life. I always find myself blessed to be brought up in a joint Odia family where we value every tradition and culture that belongs to our native place and most importantly we try to celebrate together even if we all don’t stay at once place, this is a clear reflection of Odia family.

What do you miss about Odisha like food, festival etc?

Today with blessing of the Almighty I may be enjoying a better lifestyle, working in a multinational company but for this I do a lot of sacrifices. Here sacrifice indicates what I am missing and what I can’t enjoy. In the morning, I wish to have ‘garam Bara with Guguni’ near stadium but I can’t. I want to park my scooter near the Kila ground and order for a half plate Dahi bara aloodum with a little more spice but I can’t. I wish to take a sip of hot Tea served always in a small candy glass at tea shop near Gadgadia Temple but I can’t. In the evening. All these moments which I am missing a lot always drives me to visit back to my home-Odisha..

What is essence of Odisha that you share with foreigners?

There are people from many countries who are working in my current organization and we often share our cultural and traditional value with each other in many ways. I remember once I had gifted a hand-crafted wall hanging from Pipili to my senior colleague (a Scotish national) who was interested to know where and how it was made. Similarly, I had gifted a small memento/replica of the Sun Temple, Konark to one of my close colleagues, an Australian, who was working with me when I was in Dubai and also had explained in brief about the Sun Temple. He was so intrigued about the temple that he actually made a visit to Konark during his India tour in 2011. Many times, I have brought our typical Odia mitha like Khaja, Chhena poda and distributed among the colleagues in my office.

Are you associated with any Odia community?

I am associated with some Indian community. Recently, I got information about Utkalika- Odia society here and I am looking forward to join.

If you are bestowed with power for a day, what would be the thing which you would like to change for the betterment of Odisha?

Many times, I have come across people within India who do not know of Odisha as a state or have heard its name. This situation has occurred because Odisha and Odia culture has not been presented in the National as well as Global platform in an appropriate manner. If I will be bestowed with power, I would like to take a strong initiative to present the richness of Odia culture, art and tradition along with tourism in a better way in a National and Global platform via varied media. I would like to form an Odia Forum named ‘Jewels of Odisha’ which will highlight eminent and gifted personnel from every field like Art, Dance, Food industry, Tourism, Literature, Movie etc..

Name: Sankhya Mohanty.
Profession/Designation: Researcher/Assistant Professor, DTU.
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark.

How do you keep yourself rooted to Odisha?

Odisha has a special place in my heart, of course – no less due to the fact that I was both born and raised in Cuttack. Those streets will always be the place I call home and I actively keep it alive in me, here in Denmark. I have realised that small symbolic things and acts go a long way in this. The classic poems and stories that I grew up reading still have that special place, more than 15 years down the line. Just the other day, when I was travelling on a train across Europe, I remember looking out of the window and chanting to myself the familiar lines of the poem Chilika by Utkalamani Gopabandhu Das – ‘Raha raha khyane baspiya sakata…’. Be it the story of ‘Budha sankhari’ that evokes a pathos few others do, or that of ‘Dimiri phula’ that rings all so true in so many lives these days…I keep remembering these and retelling them with a passion.

What do you miss about Odisha like food, festival etc?

The first thing that comes to mind is Bali Yatra – I have only had a chance to go thrice in the last 12 years. It has a unique association with the culture, history and industriousness of our people. That being said, it is the ‘Thunka Puri’, ‘Chakuli Mansa’ and ‘Sukhua’ that I remember most about Baliyatra, followed by the merry-go rounds, the soap bubbles and the balloon-shooting stalls. I think it will take for ever if I keep going on about the things that I miss back home.

What is essence of Odisha that you share with foreigners?

Now that is a difficult question. From travelling around the world, and to and fro back home, I got the understanding that people from Odisha have a unique way of living that is worth admiring. There is exposure to all sorts of amenities and modern technologies, and yet there is a simplicity in life that in my opinion is marvellous – and this assumes special status given that I am currently residing in the happiest country of the world. On the other hand, I also often joke about the common practice of eating ‘basi pakhala’ on summer days and taking a midday nap (though secretly I would love to do that anyday).

Are you associated with any Odia community?

I am not part of any organized Odia association or community here, though I do have some Odia friends whom I was lucky to come across here.

If you are bestowed with the power for a day, what would be the thing which you would like to change for the betterment of Odisha?

I think this is a rather tricky question, ‘cause real change does not happen over night, and no amount of power could install a permanent change unless it comes from the people themselves… But, if I were given the power to act for a day, one thing I would implement would be to make all consumption of ‘bara, piaji and gupchup’ free for one evening – it might get me back to ‘power’ as in the movies and, in the worst case, lead to a lot of happy people with possibly upset stomachs – don’t think the folks in government treasury will be happy about it though.

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